Friday 8 June 2012

Mano A Mano

By Matthew S. Hart
Americana Publishing, November 2003

Originally published by Bantam Domain Books, May 1992

She is known as the Yellow Rose, a singer with the voice of an angel and the beauty of a goddess. But her sensual powers conceal a secret and dangerous past – one which draws Cody into a deadly contest beyond the Texas frontier. 

When Rose is kidnapped and delivered to a ruthless murderer who lives for the pleasure of killing, Cody is the one man with the skill and the guts to track him down. But the trail leads south of the border and over the line. In the scorching heat of the Mexican desert, Cody has no authority save what he carries in his heart…and in his holster. Here a Ranger’s badge is but a piece of tin, and the ultimate law – between one man and another – is fixed on the blade of a bowie knife.

Although this Americana Publishing audio book is a slightly abridged version of the original paperback novel you wouldn’t have any idea that certain passages are missing unless you listen to the narration whilst following the words of the book. This audio version is presented on two cassettes and has a running time in total of just under four hours. The start of each new chapter is signified with a short piece of music and the story is superbly read by Grady Jim Robinson (although for some reason the spoken introduction to the book says it’s performed by Charlton Griffin) who expertly alters his tone and pitch for different characters and knows when to draw out words or pause for dramatic effect, making this audio book a pleasure to listen to.

The story is well plotted and offers plenty of action and surprises, the latter mainly when discovering the back-story to the Yellow Rose. In fact much of the first part of the book follows her misfortunes and kidnapping in an exciting raid on a party being held in her honour.

The tale is filled with very visual action and peopled with wonderfully drawn characters, a number of whom Cody finds himself saddled with when setting out to free the Yellow Rose from her captors. Cody’s desire to cross the border to rescue the singer sees him threaten to quit being a Ranger, so strong is his sense of purpose in this mission…or is there something more between them driving him on? As certain characters reveal their true personalities the story unfolds in an increasing pace that leads to an exciting final showdown.

I’ll finish by saying that I believe this story will appeal to most western fans and point out that you don’t need to have read (or listened to) the previous books to get full enjoyment of this tale, although I do believe once you read (or listen to) this one you’ll find yourself tracking down those earlier books and those that come after (the Cody’s Law series ran for 12 books). 

Matthew S. Hart is a pseudonym, the books being written by a small group of authors. Mano A Mano was written by James Reasoner. 

Here’s the original book cover.


James Reasoner said...

Twenty years since this one came out in paperback? That doesn't seem possible!

I loved working on those Cody's Law books. They were very heavily influence by the Jim Hatfield series from the TEXAS RANGERS pulp. The editor at Bantam who bought the series had worked at Leisure when Roe Richmond was doing those Lashtrow novels, which were actually rewritten Hatfield novels. He wanted something similar in the Cody books. I certainly enjoyed them.

larry gebert said...

I have the first 4 on order and they look good,should be starting it by Tues.